In just a few short years since Jerome Lambert – once of Jaeger-LeCoultre fame – took over the helm of Montblanc, he has transformed the brand’s watchmaking division, propelling it to new heights by drawing on the expertise and heritage of the brand’s Minerva factory and blending it with the newest products. Lambert remains CEO of Montblanc until the end of March when Nicolas Baretzki (current executive VP of sales for Montblanc) will take over when Lambert moves to his higher overall corporate position. As he closes the chapter on his time at Montblanc, we reflect on some of his great accomplishments including the fantastic new TimeWalker, Heritage, and 1858 collections, as well as the highly complicated watches unveiled at the recent SIHH. Additionally, Lambert was instrumental in the brand’s major entry into the smart watch world – announced just recently – with the all-new Montblanc Summit watch.
A fresh start for the TimeWalker
“It is sad to be leaving the brand but I am still following 100 percent its activity and am finalizing things so everything is right for Nicolas to step in,” says Lambert. Montblanc will be one of seven brands Lambert will continue to follow in his new role. “I think we have a great dream team to manage Montblanc now, with Nicolas and Davide and others coming in to continue to strengthen the Maison.” Lambert is referring, in his dream team statement, to Davide Cerrato who was brought on board at Montblanc over a year ago to head the Watch Division. Cerrato had previously been instrumental in marketing and product development at Tudor. Cerrato was instrumental in developing the highly successful TimeWalker pieces released this year.
According to Lambert, “When I joined the brand in 2013, I looked at the Timewalker collection and knew it was not right. I stopped expanding it until I found the right person to deliver the right look. We started working on it again about two years ago and with Davide on board, we have definitely done quite a bit to move it forward.” Indeed, among the new Timewalker pieces that Lambert envisioned and that were designed and developed under Cerrato are the TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter Limited Edition 100 (inspired by stopwatches produced by Minerva in the early 1900’s), the TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18, the Timewalker Chronograph UTC, Chronograph Automatic and Automatic Date—all officially released in January at the SIHH.
When you say you are a brand that measures time and is inspired by performance, and then you prove it with your watches, that is a good thing.
Montblanc, more than a writing instrument brand
“We have been working a lot on creating a strong integration of Minerva’s top quality craftsmanship and the main Montblanc line so that we have meaningful watches like the Rally Timer, and the 1/1000th of a second watch,” says Lambert. “It has all come together in a very powerful way. Sometimes you think about what the watch you are developing could be, and then it turns out even better than you thought it would. When you say you are a brand that measures time and is inspired by performance, and then you prove it with your watches, that is a good thing.” Lambert always had a vision of blending the rich history of Minerva and its abilities to measure sports and performance over the centuries with Montblanc’s strong watchmaking abilities and famed 500-hour testing done in its LeLocle facilities. He also focused strongly on spreading the global message that Montblanc is more than a writing instrument brand.
“People seem to be recognizing that we are also known for fine watchmaking and our watches are making a big buzz,” says Lambert, who notes that the segment of the watch business in the over $20,000 category is the brand’s fastest growing, having doubled that business over the past year. He has also put a renewed emphasis on women’s watches, bringing that category from being just 4 to 5 percent when he joined the brand to its current status of 20 percent of the business. So, in his parting moments, Lambert has a lot to be proud of. “I am mostly proud of our team and what we have accomplished and I look forward to working with them as I move forward in my new position with Richemont.”